The Badger Trust has welcomed David Miliband's promise to put
science first in addressing the bovine tuberculosis problem in
the national herd.
In a speech at today's Royal Agricultural Show, the Secretary
of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:
"First, any decision on culling must be based on a sound
scientific and practical base."
Trevor Lawson, Badger Trust spokesman, commented:
"Although we are disappointed that Mr Miliband has not taken
this opportunity to rule out badger culling, the Secretary of State
has clearly recognised just how complex the bovine TB problem is.
It is reassuring to see his commitment to a policy based on sound
science, because the science clearly indicates that culling badgers
is logistically impossible, not cost effective and certain to worsen
"Mr Miliband also expressed a desire to see farming make
'a positive net contribution to the environment and managing risks,
especially of animal disease'. Slaughtering tens of thousands
of badgers could hardly be a net contribution to the environment.
And since cattle are the primary reservoir of the disease, that
is where attention must be focused.
"Our concern now is that Mr Miliband did not make any commitments
to the cattle-based TB control measures that are desperately needed
and to the gamma interferon TB test in particular. It is vital
that the Secretary of State delivers on his promise and listens
to scientists, not Defra's entrenched vets, when considering gamma
"To the best of our knowledge, Mr Miliband has still not
met representatives of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG).
It is vital that he does so. The ISG has confirmed that its meetings
with animal health and welfare minister Ben Bradshaw were 'very
infrequent'  and the grossly misleading, scientifically-flawed
content of Mr Bradshaw's badger culling consultation confirms that.
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